Just like any other living organism, plants too are susceptible to diseases. On one hand these diseases have a dangerous effect on the vital function of the plants, on the other hand, it also affects the life of the farmers who struggle tremendously to achieve a high and healthy yield from their crops.
It is estimated that crop diseases cause average yield losses of 42% for most of the important food crops. And in some cases destroy the whole crop production. For this reason, it’s critical for farmers to find out all they can about the crop diseases so they can manage them properly and save themselves from great losses too.
Plantix, a mobile advisory app for farmers, extension workers and gardeners around the world. Developed by Peat, a German-based AgTech startup, Plantix allows its users to send photos of sick plants through the app and get the cause of the illness. Using just a simple smartphone picture, Plantix image recognition is able to detect more than 240 plant pests & diseases automatically. With a greater number of pictures uploaded, Plantix provides a better recognition.
Powered by AI, Plantix provides impeccable image recognition and a feedback on the problem. The Plantix disease library provides a detailed description of biological and chemical control methods for hundreds of diseases. It also provides a global platform to not only discuss strategies and problems with others in the community but also provides the opportunity to as plant pathologists questions on their problems.
We had the opportunity to interview Simone Strey, CEO of Plantix. Here is all about their journey to educate and help farmers all across the globe
1. What was the inspiration behind the inception of Plantix?
You could almost say it was a providence of destiny. It all began in the Brazilian rainforest in 2016. During our studies, we investigate the carbon reserves in the soil. But the Farmers there had a completely different problem: Their grazing grasses died as they suffered from a fungal infestation that the farmers called “Morto Subito”. But in fact, it was the “Phytophthora” fungus. So the problem was clear: There was a big lack of correct information. To be more precise, it lacked in uniform names for plant diseases. And this is indeed a global issue. A need for a database that gives an overview of all possible plant diseases was the starting signal for what we are now.
2. Could you brief us about how your business model works?
Pest infestation, nutrient deficiencies and plant diseases can ruin an entire yield. For farmers in particular, with less than 2 hectares of land, those crop failures entail massive problems. We launched Plantix with an aim to enable farmers to work more profitably and productively, to secure their livelihood and to keep their risk as low as possible. Therefore we integrate latest technologies into agriculture, one of the oldest and largest industries in the world.
3. Which key strategy you keep in mind and share your success mantra?
Everything we do is dedicated to farmers need.
4. As most farmers are not very tech savvy, how do you plan to spread awareness in order to help them through your app?
Our developer team is more than dedicated to making the app for farmers as user-friendly as possible. We collaborate with many agricultural organizations and universities as well as organize workshops and field events.
5. Which countries and regions are you currently focusing on? Which other regions do you plan to expand your brand presence?
At the moment we focus mainly on India. The mobile market is currently growing most strongly there, even in the rural areas. On the other hand, there are many farmers there whom we can help.
6. “The industry brims with theories on what makes millennials tick.” How does this fact affect your business?
I would state AI and connectivity are the topics for the next millennium – and we are already on top of the wave. It is a good time to develop solutions which are free and accessible to anyone at any time!
7. Share the biggest achievement of your company to date?
We created the biggest database in terms of plant diseases, therefore we are world leading when it comes to our image recognition algorithms. Further, we are more than happy that we were able to build a really strong community were farmers, plant lovers and experts all around the globe help each other and share their knowledge. It is always awesome if you see all the positive feedback we get from our users!
8. Where do you see your industry going in next five years?
Smartphones will be the most important information source for farmers. It will empower farmers all over the world to access knowledge decentralized and independent. India is the best example of how fast technology can spread. I think in 5 years nearly every farmer has the possibility to use a smartphone to use it as a decision support tool and their daily companion to increase the quality and quantity of their harvest to also improve their livelihood.
9. What makes you different from your competitors?
Honestly, we don’t have any real competitors when it comes to image recognition for plant disease.
10. Two suggestions for the aspiring entrepreneur and upcoming startups?
Believe in your ideas, talk to as many people as possible about your idea and then just try it – don’t hesitate